Fishkeeping is still popular, and Cichlids (Cichlidae) are desirable to many fish parents thanks to their colorful bodies and interesting temperaments. However, not all of them can cohabitate, and there are specific types of cichlids that can live together.
Types of cichlids that can live together are cichlids from the same region. For example, African cichlids go well with other African cichlids, South American cichlids go well with other South American cichlids, and so on. In addition, some types like Dwarf cichlid can live with other cichlids.
Even though some cichlids can share the same water body, some types can’t cohabitate in the same tank. Some other fish species can tolerate specific cichlids, and some can’t. Basically, before you decide to start with your hobby, ensure that you’ve learned everything there is so you’d avoid making mistakes from the beginning.
In this article, we’ll help you learn everything there is about cichlids.
Types of Cichlids
If you’re into becoming a cichlid parent, you must realize that the variety of cichlid species is wide, including Malawi cichlids, Central American cichlids, Tanganyika cichlids, South American cichlids, etc.
Moreover, when it comes to size and temperament, there are giant cichlids, dwarf cichlids, docile and aggressive ones, etc.
Choosing this type of fish for your tank can seem overwhelming at first, but we’ll help you out with more information. These are some of the cichlid fish we’ll present today:
Electric Blue Cichlid (Sciaenochromis fryeri)
The electric blue cichlid (Sciaenochromis fryeri) has another name it goes by – electric blue haps. Males of this Malawi cichlid species are gorgeous and natural eye-catchers. Keeping electric blue cichlids requires you to provide each male with at least three females. By doing so, you’ll prevent them from stressing out during the breeding period.
Electric Blue Cichlid (Sciaenochromis fryeri)
|Tank size||70+ gallons for a small harem|
|Temperament/Behavior||Medium / Not aggressive but will attack smaller fish|
|Alternative names||Electric Blue Haps|
Angelfish (Pterophyllum genus) is probably the most popular cichlid among fishkeeping hobbyists. Due to its popularity, this cichlid’s breeding process is quite selective, and the results are excellent. There are numerous beautiful Angelfish available, and they all have incredible patterns and colors.
These cichlids have complex social groups, and they shouldn’t live alone but in groups of a minimum of six fish. It’s possible to provide Angelfish with some tankmates, but ensure tankmates aren’t too small as it’ll eat them. Angelfish also don’t like fish that are too active.
Angelfish Cichlid (Pterophyllum)
|Tank size||20+ gallons|
|Alternative names||Freshwater Angelfish|
Discus fish (Symphysodon genus), like angelfish, is one of the “holy grails” in the fishkeeping world. This fish is also known as the king of the aquarium or the king of cichlids because it’s considered one of the very hard cichlids to care for due to its specific requirements.
Discus Cichlid (Symphysodon genus)
|Care level||Very Hard|
|Size||Up to 6 inches|
|Tank size||40+ gallons for one confirmed pair|
|Alternative names||Discus Fish|
Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
The convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) is a striped Central American cichlid that doesn’t get along well with other fish species and can be pretty violent. Besides their bad temperament, Convict cichlid is perfect for beginners as they’re easy to keep.
However, they’re often sold to aquarists that didn’t do their research before buying, and that’s often when the trouble begins.
Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
|Tank size||20+ gallons for a breeding pair without tankmates|
|Alternative names||Zebra Cichlid|
Oscar Cichlid (Astronotus ocellatus)
Oscar cichlids (Astronotus ocellatus) belong to the group of most popular cichlid species available out there. They are so popular because the Oscars have huge personalities and size. They’re very large and have incredible patterns.
Ensure that you’ve performed thorough research before you decide to buy an Oscar cichlid, as there are numerous misconceptions about this fish.
Oscar cichlids require outstanding water filtration, and if you wish to have a beautiful interior of your aquarium, make peace with the fact that they’ll move rocks and driftwood, and they’ll also uproot plants. Oscars are known as tank interior designer fish.
Oscar fish (Astronotus ocellatus)
|Lifespan||10 to 20 years|
|Tank size||120+ gallons for one pair|
|Alternative names||Velvet Cichlid / Red Cichlid / Marble Cichlid|
Things To Consider Before Choosing Cichlids That Can Live Together
Before we get further into the types of cichlids that can coexist, we need to remind you that you have to consider some other essential aspects, including:
The Size of the Tank
Most cichlids are hostile fishes, and putting them in a small tank will lead to much closer interaction between them and can result in fighting over territory, mates, food, etc. Think about the tank size first and provide a large enough tank for cichlids you wish to keep, and with enough space, you won’t have to worry about these issues.
Caves and rocks are crucial for your cichlids as they allow cichlids to choose their territory, which helps minimize contact with other cichlids. All this will result in less or no aggression within your tank. Moreover, caves and rocks provide smaller cichlids and other fish an excellent hiding spot from larger fish.
Now that you know you have to stock your aquarium with lots of rocks and caves, it’s only normal to consider getting a larger aquarium, as in this case – size matters. Additionally, if you’re thinking of keeping different types of cichlids that can cohabitate in the same aquarium, a large aquarium is a must-have.
The Aggressiveness of Cichlids
All cichlids are different, as some are less aggressive while there are more aggressive types as well. Therefore, it’s crucial not to mix all the most violent types in your aquarium, as your aquarium will become a battlefield.
This is an easy fix as the only thing you have to do is mix hostile cichlids with passive ones to maintain the peace balance in your tank.
Best Cichlids Types To Keep Together
We’ll list some species of cichlids that can live together with the same species and with other cichlids types.
Dwarf cichlids (Pelvicachromis pulcher) are probably the best choice you can make as they can easily live together due to lack of aggression and their size. As smaller fish, they’re not posing any threat to other dwarfs or other cichlids and fishes.
Dwarf Cichlids can easily live with South American cichlids such as Discus and Angelfish.
Various African Cichlids
African cichlids known as Mbunas can live together even though they’re the pretty aggressive type. But their aggression doesn’t mean much to larger fish like Hap (Haplochromis) and Peacock cichlids (Cichla ocellaris), and they can all live together as long as you are able to manage their temperament.
However, even though nature created this balance between Hap, Peacock, and Mbuna cichlids, helping them coexist, these types aren’t ideal tankmates whatsoever.
Angelfish can easily live with other fish and non-aggressive cichlids. However, avoid putting them in the same tank with too active fish or hostile cichlids as they don’t take it all too well.
Angelfish can easily live with Dwarf Cichlids and Discus fish.
Discus is among the most beautiful and brightest fishes you can have in your tank. They aren’t aggressive toward other species, and they’ll avoid and escape from aggressive cichlids that are trying to pick a fight. However, they sometimes ARE aggressive toward members of their own species, particularly when they are trying to spawn.
Discus fish can easily live with Angelfish and Dwarf Cichlids.
What Kind Of Fish Can Live Together With Cichlids?
You can put certain different fish species with cichlids, and they’re capable of living together without any problems. These fish species include semi-aggressive Clown Loaches (Chromobotia macracanthus), some tetra species, and Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras paleatus).
Best Tank Mates For Cichlids
If you have African cichlids, it’s advisable to leave them alone in your aquarium. However, African cichlids belong to types of cichlids that can normally cohabitate with some non-Cichlid fish. Also, they can live with various bottom feeders as long as they can tolerate cichlids.
These are some of the best tankmates for cichlids:
African Red-Eyed Tetra
African Cichlids can go well with African Red-Eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus) as this tetra species can get much larger than cichlids. Therefore, it needs a large tank in which it can swim. These tetras have exact water requirements as African cichlids, making them excellent tank buddies.
African Red-Eyed Tetra (Arnoldichthys spilopterus)
|Care level||Easy to Medium|
|Tank size||50+ gallons|
|Alternative names||Niger Tetra|
The Giant Danio (Devario aequipinnatus) is a stunning fish with bright, striking color hues. Their colors range from a silverish shade together with some golden patches and a cobalt-like blue top. All African species of cichlids can live together with Giant Danio because it’s not picky, but it requires a school of six or more.
Giant Danio (Devario aequipinnatus)
|Tank size||30+ gallons|
Leopard Bushfish (Ctenopoma acutirostre) are excellent for aquariums because of their appearance and habits. They have some very pretty splotches and patches that resemble the ones on the big cat they got their name from. This feature is what’ll make any aquarium look lovely and eye-catching.
It’s worth mentioning that Leopard Bushfish and African cichlids share the same aggression level making them perfect tank buddies. Moreover, they’re very picky eaters that require their own food, including small foods and live or even frozen fish.
Leopard Bushfish (Ctenopoma acutirostre)
|Tank size||50+ gallons|
|Alternative names||Spotted Ctenopoma / Leopard Ctenopoma / Spotted Climbing Perch / Spotted Leaf Fish / Spotted Cichlid / Spotted Bushfish|
Bonus: Best African Cichlids for Beginners
Keeping cichlids ensures you’ll have an incredible experience as these fish types are magnificent. Considering that most people usually keep fish like Goldfish (Carassius auratus) or schools of Minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus), it’s clear that cichlids are the next-level experience.
Besides being beautiful fish, cichlids also tend to interact on a level that few other fish can achieve. At some point, your cichlids will recognize you or any other owners, and they’ll show how excited they are to see their “parents.”
Speaking of parenting, unlike other species, cichlids are incredibly devoted parents. They’re cautious when it comes to keeping their eggs safe in the water, and many cichlids will follow their offspring around your aquarium or carry them in their mouth. By doing so, they’re keeping their babies safe and helping them find the food you put in the water.
Even though all this may sound fantastic, not all cichlids are the same, and some of them might be exceptionally hard to keep. Some might die quickly because they’re pretty fragile and aren’t used to living in poorly maintained tanks. Moreover, some other species are very aggressive, which can further complicate life for your other fish.
If you consider everything you’ve read so far, you probably need some suggestions on which cichlids are easiest to keep, and we may have some ideas that could help you choose.
The Convict cichlid is probably the best species to begin with as it’s a very prolific and hardy fish. Convicts are perfect for anyone who wants to experience everything this species has to offer.
Even though Convicts can live in semi-aggressive community water, we recommend that you keep them in a species-only tank. Doing so is essential as they become very violent during spawning, which always results in terrorizing the entire fish tank.
If you’re a beginner aquarist wanting to begin with cichlids, you should choose a Kribensis cichlid (Pelvicachromis pulcher). First of all, Kribs have beautiful colors and are famous for their nickname – Rainbow Krib.
Secondly, they’re incredibly peaceful and undemanding species that do great in small groups. Most of their time, they’ll inspect the water and swim about exploring the tank’s décor.
They might seem like the perfect choice for any community aquarium, but you should avoid doing that if there are any aggressive fish in the water. Krib cichlids will hide most of their time and won’t emerge from the shelter when paired with aggressive fish.
On the other hand, if you put them with non-aggressive species, Kribs will bully any passive fish during the spawning period.
Kribensis Cichlid (Pelvicachromis pulcher)
|Tank size||20-30 gallons|
|Alternative names||Rainbow Krib / Rainbow Cichlid|
Firemouth cichlid (Thorichthys meeki) has been a popular choice for a long time. Even though its popularity is not so high as it once was, they’re still the best choice for beginners.
Similar to Convict cichlid, Firemouth breeds quickly and is a hardy fish. The one thing it doesn’t share with the Convict is that it spawns much slower, which is good as your tank water won’t be overwhelmed with younglings.
Firemouth can share a tank with other Central American cichlids, but don’t put it together with non-aggressive fish because they tend to be very aggressive when spawning. Other cichlids of similar size can hold their ground against Firemouths during the breeding season, but passive fish can’t defend and may even end up injured.
Firemouth Cichlid (Thorichthys meeki)
|Tank size||30 gallons|
|Alternative names||Firemouth / Red-breasted Cichlid / Mojarra Boca de Fuego.|
Can all cichlids live together?
No, not all cichlids can live together. Cichlids that usually get along are the ones of the same type. For example, African cichlids go well together. The same goes for South American cichlids, etc.
Can 3 ram cichlids live together?
Yes, 3 ram cichlids can live together, but it’s better if you keep them alone or as pairs. In case of having more than one male, ensure you provide a large enough tank so two males would split territory within the tank.
Can 2 Jaguar cichlids live together?
Yes, 2 Jaguar cichlids can live together but only as a male and female pair. If that’s the case, Jaguar cichlids will live a happy life.
Can You Mix African and South American Cichlids?
No, you can’t mix African and South American cichlids because they evolved on different continents and have entirely different immune systems. Mixing them in the same water could make them sick.
Even though cichlids are among the most unique and beautiful fishes that most aquarists love, there’s a lot to learn about all of them before you embark on a journey of keeping them as your pets. Some cichlids go well with others, while some don’t. There are some types of cichlids that can live together, but there’s much more to it.
Before you decide to take some cichlids for your tank, read everything you can and research all the details available regarding keeping different cichlids species as pets. Discover which fish species are compatible with cichlids so you could create harmony within your tank.
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